Steel town waits for President Trump's promises to come true

Westmoreland County, which includes Monessen, is one of Pennsylvania's democratic strongholds. But in November 2016, it went red for Trump.
3:00 | 01/30/18

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Transcript for Steel town waits for President Trump's promises to come true
This was my old blast furnace burning jacket. It's worn out but I'm very proud that I managed to save it. It's all I have left. Reporter: 30 miles south of Pittsburgh, monessen, Pennsylvania was a bustling steel town. Once home of the Wheeling Pittsburgh mill. In its heyday it employed over 2,000 workers. John gullen was one of them. I've been a steel worker for 3 1/2 decades. It was quite dangerous. Making iron is quite a process. Reporter: He's here where the mill once was for the first time in years. It's now a factory called alumisource, a recycling center. We really had high hopes that oh, boy, this is going to be a lifelong job for us. Reporter: Of course that was not to be. In 1986 the mill shut its doors as the steel industry collapsed. Thousands including John lost their jobs. It's overwhelming. I've got to tell you, it's overwhelming. They promised this would be the beginning. Everyone had high hopes. Everyone. Steel's not just a job for you. No. It was my way of life. I supported my dear children. Proudly. Very proudly. I was very proud to be a Pittsburgh steel worker. I still am. I can see my memories are never going to leave now. After 30 years it all came back to me. Part of me's gone. Part of me's gone. Reporter: These are the struggles in a shuttered steel town, a place we've been following since 2016, ever since then candidate Donald Trump came to town to this very factory. We are going to put American steel and aluminum back into the backbone of our country. This alone will create massive numbers of jobs. Reporter: John, a lifelong Democrat, heard that speech and he felt something he hadn't in a very long time. Hope. I voted Republican because Donald Trump took his time to come to monessen and what he said is what I wanted to hear. Reporter: This county is one of Pennsylvania's democratic strongholds. But in November 2016 it went red. I believe he does care about America's middle class and the poor. Reporter: Trump's promise to monessen echoes so many others made on the campaign trail. American hands will rebuild this nation. Believe me, folks. We're building the wall. Believe me. We're going to put our miners back to work. Reporter: But in the year since that hope, life would get better, at least here is fading. In 1973 the United States produced 151 million tons of raw steel. By 2015 that had fallen to 87 million. American workers replaced by automation. Now the U.S. Is the number one importer of steel worldwide. Am I angry? Hell yes, I'm angry. I'm pissed off. I'd like to see something happen to the community that I grew up in. Reporter: When you drive through monessen, it's hard to imagine what it once was. That weighs heavily on mayor Lou mevrakis. 24,000, 25,000 steel worker jobs lost, just from this valley right here. What a shame. Reporter: Lou, who as a steel worker rep before mayor, says trump's vow to bring steel back is nothing more than a politician's empty promise. It's impossible for him to bring back the steel industry to that degree ever again. No, it won't happen. You can produce the same amount of steel now with 400 employees. Reporter: Towns like monessen now left barren, blighted. These people live in a third world country. This used to be a bank at one time but now it's the world's largest pigeon coop. Reporter: Building after building abandoned. Decrepit. We demoed this building. It caved in. And it was pushing against this one. It cost us $65,000 to demo this building. Reporter: Lou's helping to bring the medical company Bess international to town. With it a much-needed influx of cash. Today for those trying to make a life here like Sheldon Davis it's hard. What is the old monessen like of your youth? Old monessen of my youth, it was great. It was fun times. Now that I'm older and I'm still here, it's nothing like the old monessen used to be. Reporter: His great grandfather worked in the mill. But now this married father of three is struggling to find full-time work. It's challenging. We have the alumisource place. It's probably hard to get in there. Reporter: In monessen other than alumisource, the family dollar and subway are as close as it gets to big business. But Sheldon, who voted for Hillary Clinton, is still hopeful that the president will be true to his word. You've got to give everyone a chance. All a man has is his word. So the only thing I can do is hope that his word is what he says it is. President trump came here and he talked about bringing back steel. Do you think that can actually happen here? Yes. Because we have the land mass. I definitely think it could generate money. It's just all about the point of getting it there. Reporter: As the president's first state of the union approaches -- What has changed for your family? Nothing. That me and my family could actually benefit from. What do you want to hear from the president at the state of the union? I would love for him to elaborate if he still has plans on bringing the jobs here at the state of the union. Reporter: Like Sheldon John worries about his family's future. He has three kids, including a 21-year-old daughter, Jocelyn. We're best friends, right? We're best buds. Watch, he's going to start crying. I get choked up, yeah. She thinks that Hillary would have been the right candidate. But she's very young and she doesn't understand how hard I worked. My daughter's still in a learning stage. Anyone that knows my dad knows he is a Democrat and he loves Democrats. The reason why I voted for him is because he came to monessen. And anybody who says they want to bring steel back to life gets my vote. Anybody who says they're going to bring steel back is full of it. I hope. What have I got to lose? Everything's gone. Maybe keep a little glimmer of hope. Reporter: With trump in the white house his monessen supporters took heart when he announced an investigation into steel imports costing American jobs. From now on we're going to stand up for American jobs, workers, their security, and for American steel companies. Reporter: But nothing has changed here. No new steel jobs. Eight months later we find John's had a change of heart. John and Jocelyn, last time you guys spoke to us was April I guess. Yes, it was. A long time ago. In that time how's president trump been doing? Worse. Worse. I'm disappointed. He's done nothing to try to save the American steel industry and nothing, nothing has come to fruition. Nothing. I don't have any optimism. Not now. Have there been any positives in his first year? There was a coal mine that he helped to get reopened in Pennsylvania. And I thought that was a little glimmer of a possible rebound. But I've not heard anything since. Now is the time a year in have the words I told you so been uttered -- I say it all the time I told you so. He'll start complaining. I'll say you voted for him. You realize your mistake but it's too late to realize your mistake. You should have listened to me. What really hurts me is when he comes up on the podium and he'll make a statement, I'm the president and they're not. As if it was nothing but a game to him. I'm just disgusted with his demeanor. Communities like monessen they built their country. You won your election because of the rust belt. Now show these people that you mean what you said. Reporter: In the time that's passed Lou is no longer mayor but he's still fighting for monessen. From the president Lou wants federal funding to rebuild. Make me a poster child. Give somebody in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, take the picture before, take the after. Make me a poster child. Then see what we can do with this community that built this country. Reporter: Because here the steel may be disappearing. How are you doing? Reporter: But that all-American dream to work hard, earning a good life, endures. For "Nightline" I'm Gloria Riviera in monessen, Pennsylvania.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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